Bylong mining company avoids criminal record and fine after faking site photos

The steep, rocky terrain of the actual site.

Korean state-owned miner KEPCO and its contractor Worley Parsons were prosecuted by the NSW Department of Industry's Division of Resources and Energy (DRE) in March, after it was revealed the companies had used fake photographs purporting to be of a Bylong property at which they were seeking permission to drill for coal.

The photographs were not of the property, and showed an environment completely unlike the area they were seeking permission to drill in. When DRE was alerted to this by the affected landholder, charges were laid against the companies.

However, in Downing Centre Local Court on August 9, the charges were dropped after both companies lodged an “enforceable undertaking” promising not to do it again thus avoiding fines of up to $110,000, and criminal records.

Craig Shaw, the landholder who reported the breach, asked: “Where is this government's commitment to enforcement and compliance of mining regulations?

“These companies have been let off the hook. They have deliberately broken the law, but they will not be punished. KEPCO are free to continue with their plans to turn the spectacular and unique Bylong Valley into a mining complex.

Hunter regional coordinator for the Lock The Gate Alliance Steve Phillips said: “This is a shameful abdication of duty by the NSW Government. “They have completely failed to hold these companies to account for their actions.”

“The Baird Government is sending a message to mining companies that they can do whatever they please, with impunity. If they get busted lying, if they get busted breaking the law, no worries. Sign on the dotted line and you can get straight back to business.

“On the other hand: when local residents come out to protest the impacts of mining, they are met with the full force of the law. They are arrested. They are charged.

“When local residents defeat a mining proposal in court, the state government changes the law to ensure the mining company gets exactly what it wants.

“Is it any wonder that the public has completely lost faith in the fairness of mining laws in NSW?”

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